Governor Rick Perry’s campaign has only granted a handful of one-on-one interviews since he first announced his candidacy for president in August.
In his Pittsburgh speech, Perry presented the first part of his economic agenda– choosing to focus on energy jobs. He said, upon entering office he would issue and executive order opening up federal lands and waters to drilling for oil and natural gas, claiming it would create 1.2 million jobs.
That would include opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and allowing for oil exploration off the East Coast. “This diversifies America’s energy portfolio,” he said, “It helps ensure energy availability and affordability for American families. It also makes us secure from foreign sources of energy that come from countries that don’t necessarily have our best interests in mind.”
However, Perry said he would not support drilling in pristine areas, such as the Florida Everglades.
After Perry’s speech, the White House released a statement criticizing Perry’s proposals, “Governor Perry’s energy policy isn’t the way to win the future, it’s straight out of the past – doubling down on finite resources with no plan to promote innovation or to transition the nation to a clean energy economy.”
Perry also called for reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying it was too hostile to business. He said environmental issues should be approached primarily at the state level. “We know that in South Carolina, those individuals who live there and take their environment seriously will make substantially better decisions than some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
It’s a bit of a sore point for the Texas governor after the EPA accused his state of not following the federal Clean Air Act and took over its air quality program in 2010. At the time (well before he was a presidential candidate), Perry fired off a letter to President Obama saying his state had reduced its ozone and nitrogen oxide emissions faster than the national average.
However, environmentalists maintained Texas already had such a high level of emissions that it could make a significant reduction and still be one of the nation’s most polluted states.
Perry said he has an “all of the above” approach to energy, which include also includes offshore wind energy and nuclear– two alternative sources that experts believe could have a future in South Carolina. He also said he would support phasing out subsidies and “industry-specific” tax credits, with the exception of research and development credits.